Rap Genius: The top 5 rap lyrics of the week

RAP GENIUS - This was the week that saw a song commemorating the "most widely anticipated baby since Lucy and Ricky's little one, but plenty of other childhood-related events also happened...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

This was the week that saw a song commemorating the most widely anticipated baby since Lucy and Ricky’s little one, but plenty of other childhood-related events also happened.

Childhood favorites of many 70s and 80s babies received their props this week, as Fred The Godson shouted out the Fat Boys and Southern staple Young Dro name-dropped Pee-wee Herman. On a more serious note, Cassidy pondered the ultimate philosophical quandry, and the rapper formerly known as Mos Def compared life in the hood to a slasher movie.

5. “What came first, the weed plant or the seed of weed?/Put a Magnum on when you smash a jawn or get Eazy-E” – Cassidy, ‘You So Phony’

We at RG have had great affection for Cassidy since the beginning of his career. While his albums have often been underwhelming, his freestyles and mixtape songs can be amazing. So it is with ‘You So Phony,’ and this excerpt in particular is notable for its sudden shift in tone, from a chicken-or-egg query — humorously changed to a far more relevant piece of nature — to a safe-sex PSA (former NWA member Eric “Eazy-E” Wright died of complications from AIDS in 1995), with no transition between the ideas. Somehow, The Hustler makes it work, mostly by the sheer conviction in his voice. The fact that it’s an ODB-style non sequitur barely registers and when it does, the line suddenly becomes even more amusing.

4. “I’m so Fat Boy fresh/With that rap, boy — they know that boy best” – Fred The Godson, ‘Set It Off’

Fred is getting to be somewhat of a line of the week regular, having taken the crown two weeks ago. But this nod to the hefty rapper’s progenitors in the big-man-rapping game brings us a smile and a sudden urge to re-watch Disorderlies.

3. “Up the coast is where I be, burn a tree in Germany/Thirty inch rider y’all, on them Pee-wee Herman feet” – Young Dro, ‘Boomin’‘

We’ve long been fans of Atlanta’s Young Dro, mostly for his ability to talk endlessly about the colors of his different cars. Writer Tom Breihan notably cataloged the hues in Dro’s garage over the course of one of his mixtapes — the list went “whirlwind, sour apple, Jolly Rancher, Patron, Tropicana, Mars bar, tofu, your lipstick, high-tide ocean, Papa Smurf, Patron again, bell pepper, the nose on Rudolf, Tropicana again, cocaine, Superman, vanilla, and Ric Flair hair.”

Sadly, the rapper seems to be past the car-color phase of his career, but his new mixtape We Outchea is still great. These lines paint a fairly standard picture of a rapper living the high life, except for the absurd (and perfect) detail of his car’s wheels being as big as the ridiculous platform shoes Pee-wee Herman wears in his movie’s famous “Tequila”.

2. “Psycho, I’m liable to turn Michael, take your pick/Myers, Myers, Myers, face it” – Yasiin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def), ‘Ni**as in Poorest’

The mighty Mos — er, Yasiin, as he recently renamed himself — is making somewhat of a comeback after an unpredictable past few years. First there were several stellar new Black Star songs, and now this. A pointed freestyle over the monster hit ‘Ni**as in Paris’, Yasiin’s take on it emphasizes the struggling classes, to whom $50,000, a dollar figure that Jay-Z dismisses as barely worth taking note of in the original song, is “more than my annual salary”.

This couplet takes Jay’s (via Biggie Smalls) “Michael” puns (“Tyson, Jackson, Jordan, Game 6,” goes the second half in the original) and cleverly points out the craziness and violence visited on the minds and bodies of those stuck in forgotten, crumbling neighborhoods by making horror-movie-level violence the only option on the table.

1. “Your Grandpa died a ni**a failure, then he died of liver failure/Deep down he was a good man, goddamn I can’t deliver failure” – Jay-Z, Glory

In several parts of Jay-Z’s ecstatic and touching ode to his and Beyonce’s newborn daughter, he suddenly turns serious and melancholy in a way that proves an extremely effective balance to the song’s general mood. A quick reference to his friend Aaliyah’s fatal plane provides one such moment, and so does this section. Much of Jay’s best work has been reckoning with his relationship, or lack thereof, to his father, Adnes Reeves. Reeves was Hov’s early idol but left when the rapper was 12 on an ill-fated quest to avenge the murder of his brother.

After years of being out of touch, the two briefly reconciled around 2003, shortly before Reeves’ death. Jay’s incredible diptych of abandoned-father duets with Beanie Sigel, ‘Where Have You Been’ and ‘Still Got Love For You,’ are career highlights for both artists, and the too-late father and child reunion has been a recurring image in Hov’s later work. Here, the use of it brings a full sense of his newborn daughter’s family legacy, and the pun on “deliver” serves to pick up the mood before it gets too melancholy.